Skip navigation

'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

Date: July 22, 2015
Guest: Rick Santorum, Neal Katyal

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. I am very excited.
I will admit to that. Thank you very much.

And thanks to you at home as well for joining us this hour.

Black is white, up is down and night is day, dogs and cats living
together peacefully.

I mean, the news out of Wisconsin today, out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin,
is that there may be a freaking lion on the loose in Milwaukee. A lion. A

I`m telling you, today is just -- today is a weird day. And not just
because Milwaukee apparently has a lion, but also because -- as Chris just
mentioned -- Rick Santorum is here. There he is in the green room of he is
here to talk to me on purpose and he even knows it`s me. He`s going to be
joining us live in the studio in just a few moments. So, we`ve got a lion
a loose in Milwaukee, we`ve got Rick Santorum here live in person.

And to further prove that today is truly an inside-out, upside-down
day, I submit to you this.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie no longer loves Bruce Springsteen.
It is tragic but it is true. I mean, if there was one thing that made
sense in this crazy world of ours, it was Chris Christie`s enduring love of
Bruce Springsteen.

Look at him rocking out with full abandon, right? This is at a Bruce
Springsteen concert back in 2000.

Listen to how Chris Christie once describes hugging Bruce


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Bruce and I had an opportunity
to chat for a while Friday night. We hugged.


We hugged. Yes. And I -- he told me it is official. We`re friends.
So, the hug was great. When we got home, there was a lot of weeping
because of the hug. And the president said, "Why?" I said, "Well, to be
honest, I was the one doing the weeping."


MADDOW: "I will treasure it forever" is the exact phrase that Chris
Christie used to talk about, talking to and being hugged by Bruce
Springsteen. "I will treasure it forever." That was just a couple of
short years ago.

But, now, apparently, that`s over. And here`s how we know -- Chris
Christie and his wife recently sat down for a funny/quirky rapid fire style
video interview with a conservative news site called LifeZette. They
answered answered quick succession, sort of "would you rather" type
questions. So, Bradley Cooper versus Anderson Cooper. Ben and Jerry`s
versus Baskin Robbins. It was all going awkwardly according to plan until


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jon Bon Jovi or Bruce Springsteen?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that a hard question?

M.P. CHRISTIE: Their music or their person?


M.P. CHRISTIE: Bon Jovi.



MADDOW: After everything they`ve been through, after the hug, after
the weeping, after I`ll treasure.

But honestly, throughout this whole video, not just the heartbreaking
Bruce Springsteen part of it, throughout the whole thing, Governor Christie
just looks pained. He just looks miserable. But, apparently, this is the
kind of thing you have to do to compete for the presidential nomination
this year.

And after 130 that Bruce Springsteen concerts, after hugs and
weeping, after a lifelong devotion, if you want to compete for the
Republican nomination, you have to consider Bruce Springsteen`s politics
now apparently. You have to throw Bruce Springsteen under the bus. That`s
the kind of thing you have to do. It`s heartbreak.

In general, if you really loved somebody personally, somebody in your
personal life, you really love them, and they had a chance to run for
president, would you want them on run for president? I mean, think about
it. In all honesty, it must be absolutely no fun to run for president.

Chris Christie does look genuinely pained doing stuff like this
quirky video thing today. It`s just hard to run. And not just because of
all the scrutiny. Not just because you have to do hokey rapid fire sit-
down interviews, where they corner you into dissing things you really do
like. Campaigning for president most of the time just doesn`t seem fun.

That fact alone should make the Republican Party this year feel quite
lucky that they have such an enviable roster of folks who are willing to
run. And I say that in all seriousness. The Republican field this year is
an embarrassment of riches in terms of real, viable, serious candidates.

I mean, take Chris Christie. Chris Christie is running on charisma
and his personality. He is a charismatic, natural born politician. He`s a
two-term blue state Republican governor. He tends to be a very big crowd
pleaser in front of almost any crowd, especially if you can them in to sort
of a off-the-cuff conversations.

He`s also a legendary fund-raiser. When he was head of the
Republican Governors Association, Chris Christie not only set a fundraising
record, he also got very unlikely Republican governors elected all over the
country, including in blue states, places like Maryland and Massachusetts
and Maine. He did that. He made that happen. And that`s the Chris
Christie running for the Republican nomination this year.

Alongside him, you also have the guy who served for 14 years as the
governor of the state of Texas, 14 years. Governed the state through a
time when Texas grew its population and grew economically while the rest of
the country was going through comparatively hard times. He`s had executive
leadership of a large state and a long government over a long period of
time. Plus, he`s got amazing hair. I mean, just absolutely top of the
line presidential hair.

Then, there is the current governor from the almighty swing state of
Ohio, right? If one state matters in presidential politicking, it`s Ohio,
right? Well, the Ohio governor is Republican this year. He`s been twice
elected in Ohio. He has poll numbers through roof in that perfectly purple

Before being governor, he had a long distinguished career in
Congress. He is also incredibly well-connected at the king maker of king
makers in Republican politics. He is incredibly well-connected at the FOX
News Channel where he hosted his own show in between his congressional
career and his gubernatorial career.

But it just gets better from there. I mean, if none of those guys
appeal to you, the Republican Party this year also has one of the highest
profile women in the American business world. And for a party that has
been on the wrong end of a very bad gender gap in terms of national
election, Carly Fiorina is a hard edged aggressive candidate for the
Republicans to put forward when Democrats will probably run the most famous
woman in the world as their nominee for president.

The Republican Party also running the first ever Indian-American
major candidate for president. He is a current governor, he`s young, super
energetic, not an old white guy, right? Bobby Jindal is also a fire brand,
super uncompromising religious conservative who talks about God and
religion and being born again with incredible ease, basically every time he
talks about anything and that can be a very important quality to a big
swath of the Republican base in particular.

In addition to all those candidates, they`ve also got the biggest
foreign policy hawk in Republican politics who`s not named John McCain. I
mean, he is the biggest forest policy hawk in Congress alongside his best
friend John McCain. John McCain`s already been the Republican nominee.
They weren`t going to make him the nominee again.

But the only other person with the same kind of mantle as John McCain
on foreign policy and national security issues and enthusiasm for wars of
all kinds is Senator Lindsey Graham. He is 18 years younger than his best
friend John McCain. And this year, it`s Lindsey Graham who is running for
the nomination.

And also in the Republican race this year, they`ve got the guy who
came in second the last time around. The guy who won Iowa last time
around, who won 11 states. The guy who was the last candidate standing in
the Republican primary against Mitt Romney.

That would be Rick Santorum. And he has been pointing out on the
campaign trail if you look at the modern history of Republican nominees for
president, the person who eventually ended up getting the nomination and
almost every modern Republican primary was either a vice president, a son
of a former president, or the guy who came in second in the previous
Republican primary who decided to take another shot at getting the

Well, this year, we have two of the three in the running. We don`t
have a Republican vice president running, but we`ve got a son of a former
president running in the form of Jeb Bush. And we`ve got the guy who came
second the last time around, the runner for the nomination from 2012, Rick

So, there is an embarrassment of riches in terms of who is running on
the Republican side. Even if you just look at the small sample of the
roster of candidates they are running, on paper, this is kind of as good as
it gets in terms of a political field.

But here`s the thing -- basically, none of those candidates that I
just mentioned are going to be allowed to compete for the Republican
presidential nomination. Most if not all of those candidates that I just
described, most if not all of them, are going to be excluded from the first
Republican presidential debate. They won`t be allowed on the stage.

FOX News, of course, is hosting the first Republican primary debate.
FOX News has decided that they would only like ten candidates on the stage
with that debate. The way they are going to pick the ten candidates, even
though there are at least 16 major Republicans running.

The way they`re going to pick is they`re taking an average of five
most recent national polls leading up to a couple of days before the
debate. That`s it, national polls.

FOX News hasn`t specified which national polls they`re going to use
even though that debate is nine weeks away. The cut-off date for getting
in is less than two weeks away. They still haven`t said what polls they`re

We`ve tried to guess how they might decide who is allowed to debate,
to compete for the nomination. We`ve tried to guess using the vague FOX
News criteria. We`ve decided to try to figure out what their methodology
might be for figuring out who might make it into the debate if the debate
were held today. We call at the "who`s allowed to compete cable news
derive random number generator", because that`s the title it deserves.

And according to that, our sort of best figuring of what FOX News
might do, these eight candidates look relatively safe for making the debate
but everybody else in the running will be fighting for what we think are
the two other podiums. The two other seats on stage that are arguably
still up for grabs.

The most recent national poll which FOX News may or may not be using
to decide who gets into the debate, but the most recent national poll that
we used in our random number generator shows an absolutely huge first place
lead for New York real estate developer Donald Trump. Mr. Trump is almost
doubled his lead over the second and third place candidates in this
"Washington Post"/ABC News poll.

Mr. Trump is just so far out in advance, it`s hard to imagine
everybody catching up to him in time to change anything meaningful at the
top of the polls, in time for that first debate. It`s getting so that the
fight to even be allowed to compete for the Republican nomination this
year, at this moment, which is when it really counts, the fight to be
allowed to compete is basically right now a fight to try to capture some of
the attention that is going to Donald Trump, try to get one or two of his
poll numbers that he doesn`t need because he is so far out in front.

That basically fact in Republican politics right now is why this
might be the greatest thing that ever happened to Lindsey Graham`s national
political ambitions.


And I found the card. I wrote the number down. I don`t know if it is the
right number. Let`s try it. 202 (AUDIO DELETED)

I don`t know. Maybe it`s -- three, four years ago so maybe it`s an
old number. 202 (AUDIO DELETED)

So, I don`t know, give it a shot. Your local politician, you know?
He won`t fix anything but at least he`ll talk to you.


MADDOW: Donald Trump giving out Lindsey Graham`s personal cell phone
number is great for Lindsey Graham, right? Because he`s not going to get
in the debate unless something radically changes about Lindsey Graham, his
national profile right now.

Well, Donald Trump attacking Lindsey Graham like this, it connects
their two names in the news headlines. It allowed Lindsey Graham to
respond, which he did today with this strange and funny video of him
violently attacking an innocent flip phone, saying he`s got to destroy his
phone now that Donald Trump gave out the number. That got lots and lots of
attention today.

How else is Lindsey Graham going to make national news today?
Hitting --


TRUMP: I see Rick Perry the other day. And he is so, you know, he`s
doing very poorly in the polls. He put glasses on so people will think
he`s smart. And it just doesn`t work. You know, people can see through
the glasses. But he`s got the glasses, the whole deal.


MADDOW: That insult of Donald Trump toward Rick Perry is the single
best thing that ever happened to Rick Perry`s national presidential
ambitions, because in response to Donald Trump attacking him, Rick Perry
got to hold his big anti-Donald Trump speech today. He made sure to do it,
not in South Carolina or in Iowa or South Carolina, but Washington, D.C.,
because right now, what matters for him is the national press. And the
national press tends to hang out in Washington, D.C.

I mean, in order to compete this year, you need national attention.
The only subject on which Republicans are guaranteed to be able to get
national attention is if they are discussing Donald Trump, responding to
Donald Trump or engaged in some sort of fight with Donald Trump.

That`s the -- that`s Lindsey Graham and Rick Perry, that`s their path
right now.

I mean, at this point in the race, this far out in the race, national
poll numbers ought to be absolutely meaningless. This year, it turns out
they`re all that matters, because of FOX News, and the only way to get a
bump in national poll numbers seems to be talking about and fighting with
and situating yourself somehow in the orbit of Donald Trump.

And other candidates are trying to get attention many other ways.
John Kasich said today we should start a new ground war in the Middle East
right now. We should put American boots on the ground to fight ISIS.
Let`s just do it, he said.

Jeb Bush went to a fake abortion clinic. One of those clinic that is
designed to look like they provide abortions to patients but they do not.
This crisis pregnancy centers.

Scott Walker is doing events in New Hampshire with former Senator
Scott Brown, which is inherently hilarious.

I mean, you can do all sorts of funny or outrageous or provocative
things. Rick Santorum today said that Iranians don`t care about dying.
Iran will use a nuclear weapon. They don`t care about dying.

Everybody thought saying that kind of a provocative thing, right?
Tripping that sort of wire somewhere in the polity would be enough to get a
candidate national attention that would put your name in front of voters
and get newspaper headlines and maybe translate into a bump in the polls.

It hasn`t turned out that way. If it`s not about Donald Trump
honestly at this point, it`s not really registering. Donald Trump is
apparently the only on-ramp for candidates who want to be allowed to
compete for the Republican presidential nomination.

In that kind of environment, where no matter what you said and no
matter what you did, it won`t make news unless it`s about Donald Trump. If
that were the environment in which you were operating and your political
life depended on it, what would you do? How would you deal with those

Let`s ask Rick Santorum next.


MADDOW: The most exciting thing is about to happen around here.
Look, look, do it. Ha!

Senator Rick Santorum is here live. It`s not a cardboard cut out.
It`s not a stunt. He`s going to be a guest on our show. I get to ask Rick
Santorum anything.

It`s so hard to get Republicans on this show. My first question is
going to be, why are you here?

He`s right here.

We`ll be right back.


MADDOW: Around the time that President Obama was getting ready to
nominate Sonia Sotomayor to be a Supreme Court Justice, the political right
decided it was very controversial that President Obama said one of the
thing he was looking for in a potential Supreme Court justice was that that
person should have a sense of empathy.

And our friend Michael Steele was chairman of the Republican Party at
the time and he got on the radio one day in the midst of kerfuffle and he
said this. He said and I quote, "Crazy nonsense empathetic. I`ll give you
empathy. Empathize right on your behind."


Empathize right on your behind.


MADDOW: And so, I bought We bought
that website. Then one day down the road. I didn`t really make pals with
Michael Steele, I was able to offer him I
was able to offer him that website as a gift. It was very satisfying.

We also own If I ever meet and
make friends with Senator Fred Thompson, I look forward to giving him that
web address as well.

I also have one that I`ve been holding on to all of these years and
hoping to give to Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. In the 2012 race for
the Republican presidential nomination, Senator Santorum went to Florida
and he gave a stump speech that included this anecdote, where he was
talking about long days, door-knocking on the campaign trail and one
particularly hot day when a nice lady not only opened her door to him, she
invited him in for a glass of water.

He says this, quote, "The lady comes back. She hands me the water.
I`m patting the dog and taking a drink. The next thing I know, they have
warm sensation. And I immediately jump up and there on my tan pants is a
wet spot where you don`t want a wet spot.

So, I get up and she says let me get that. I said no, that`s OK.
I`m fine, thank you. She says I can get a hair dryer. I said no, we`re
not going to do that either.

Then she offered to have me take my pants off and put them in the
dryer. By that time I was almost out the door. I thanked her for the
water and the experience and said I`ll be fine. I get out the door and
walk out on the sidewalk. I`m halfway through the neighborhood. What do
you do?"

"The Sarasota Union Tribune" in Florida wrote up that anecdote and
then they put this headline on it. "Dog pee can`t stop Santorum." That
was the headline in the local paper, which seemed nice, like they got the
point of the anecdote, resilience in the face of challenge, but it also
sort of seemed unfair.

And so, as a sort of gesture of protectionism, we bought and I`ve always wanted a chance to offer it to
the senator as a gift. I mean no harm. I have kept that URL as redirect
to my own page all these years now.

Particularly, if you are on the left of the political spectrum, there
are a handful of things you probably know instantly when you hear the name
Rick Santorum. In 2003, he became nationally famous when he was discussing
homosexuality and gay rights with an "Associated Press" reporter. He
suggested an equivalence between same sex relationships and in his words,
quote, "you know, man on child, man on dog, whatever the case may be."

That inspired the best "AP" response I have ever seen transcribed
ever. This reporter said in response, quote, "I`m sorry. I didn`t think I
was going to be talking about man on dog with a United States senator.
It`s sort of freaking me out."

After Santorum lost his Senate seat in 2006 and started campaigning
for the presidency, he did keep up a hard edge on social issues.


talk about that no president has talked about before is I think the dangers
of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea. Many in
the Christian faith have said, "Well, that`s OK. Contraception`s OK."

It`s not OK because it`s a license to do things in the sexual realm
that is counter to how things are supposed to be.


MADDOW: If you know just one thing about Senator Rick Santorum, that
right wing cultural warrior stuff is probably what you know.

But widen the lens a little when you think about him, because yes, he
is running for president again, for a third time this year. And he is the
one Republican candidate who says he is in favor of raising the minimum
wage. In my view, he is the most effective communicator, the best speaker
of all the Republican candidates running for president, and that should
count for something, especially in such a large field.

He is also right -- absolutely correct on the issue of how badly the
FOX News Channel is screwing up the Republican primary this year by saying
they`ll only let ten candidates in the debate even though at least 16 are
running and they`re going to set the cut-off over who makes and it who
doesn`t based on national polling.

Rick Santorum was the first Republican candidate to both recognize
how wrong that was and to be brave enough to say it out loud, even though
that meant criticizing the FOX News Channel out loud.


SANTORUM: In January of 2012, I was at 4 percent in the national
polls and I won the Iowa caucuses. I don`t know if I was last in the
polls, but I was pretty close to last.

And so, the idea that a national poll has any relationship as to the
viability of a candidate, ask Rudy Giuliani about it. Ask Phil Graham
about it.


MADDOW: He`s right. He`s been right on that for weeks and weeks and

National polls are and should be meaningless at this point in the
process. It is a perversion of the process for FOX News to say national
polls are going to decide who`s allowed to debate and who isn`t. He`s

That said, Senator Santorum may have been polling at 4 percent
nationally when he ran and ultimately came in second to Mitt Romney four
years ago. In the national polls now, he`s barely pushing 1 percent.

Rick Santorum is in the fight of his political life right now just to
stay in the running and be allowed to compete. How did it come to this?
And how does he plan to turn things around?

Joining us for the interview is the former senator from Pennsylvania
and now presidential candidate, Rick Santorum.

Senator --

SANTORUM: Love that you`re rubbing your hands there. That`s --

MADDOW: I`m really happy you`re here.

SANTORUM: Relishing this opportunity. I`m glad to be here.

MADDOW: Other people are not as excited to talk to you as I am? Is
that what you`re saying?

SANTORUM: No, I think you`re probably as excited as I`ve seen quite
sometime, so I`m actually -- I`m encouraged by that.

MADDOW: Well, part of that is because Republicans generally don`t
want to talk to me and I noticed a change in this at a very specific time.
When Rand Paul first ran for Senate, he actually announced his Senate run
on my show. We got along great. I used to have him and his dad both on my
radio show all the time.

Then, we had this difficult interview where he couldn`t answer about
the Civil Rights Act. And after that, not only did I never get him back,
but I never got back nationally ambitious Republican politicians ever.

So, did you just not get that memo?

SANTORUM: I must have missed that. But, no, I`m looking forward to
the opportunity on get a chance to talk about -- I guess a whole range of
issues. And I gave up a lot.

MADDOW: You gave up -- you`re with U2.

SANTORUM: About two hours ago, I had my picture with Bono. I was at
Madison Square Garden with my daughter and we were about to -- you know, go
to the concert. But here I am.

MADDOW: Thank you.

SANTORUM: So, I`m giving up.

MADDOW: Thank you very much.

What happened to your constituency from 2012. How come you`re not
doing better this year?

SANTORUM: I would say that most of the voters right now, if you
asked them a polling question, this goes to your point which I just heard
you say. If you did a national poll and asked them to name the Republican
candidates, you would probably get three or four names at most. Most
people aren`t paying that close of attention.

And as you see with Donald Trump, it`s who is driving national meme
that really is getting the attention and getting the numbers. That`s not
what I`m -- you know, I`m not driving that national meme right now. I`m
focused on what I focused on four years ago, which is doing well in the
state of Iowa, building a good organization, the other early primary
states, which I`m doing.

And if you go back four years ago, Rick Perry came on the stage about
this time with tens of billions of dollars. Tops in the polls just after
Michele Bachmann had won the Iowa straw poll. Neither of them got a single
delegate. We were at 1 percent in Iowa and probably barely 1 percent in
the national polls.

We got to focus on -- we are going to focus on Iowa. We`re going to
do our job.

MADDOW: This year, the rules are different. I mean, if you`re not
on -- because of that FOX News rule that they`re only taking 10 people.
They`re basing on it national polls. I mean, if you`re not there on stage,
you and Chris Christie and Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal and all the rest of
these people who are probably not going to make the stage, if you guys
aren`t there, you`re effectively not running.

SANTORUM: I disagree with that. I just think what happens in July
and August, it`s like the Las Vegas ad. What happens in Vegas, stays in
Vegas. What happens in August, stays in August.

I don`t think there really is going to be that much of an impact.
Lots of thing are going to happen between now and January. A lots of folks
are going to rise, a lots of folks are going to fall.

And, you know, I always feel like the focus we`re going to have is
trusting the good people of Iowa, which I did last time. That when push
comes to shove, and when they start to pay attention on this race, which
historically is about two to three weeks out, they`re going to look at the
candidate who they think is the best person to be the president of the
United States, at a time that is critical of this country.

And I feel very confident after having spent the time there. And
folks get to know me and kick the tires of all these models in the
showroom, that we`re going to do just fine.

MADDOW: If -- so, FOX is going to do this thing and I don`t know if
CNN will do the same thing, where they`re going to have what everybody has
been sort of derisively calling the kids table, where you don`t get to be
in the real debate that you`re allowed to be in.

SANTORUM: Well, FOX -- I was over at FOX today. I`m obviously here
in New York and I was over at FOX today, and they made the point to say,
well, we moved to it to 5:00, which is almost quasi-primetime, and that
they`re going to be on the same debate stage as the others. It`s going to
feel very similar.

You know, I was very frank with them. I told them I don`t think
that`s a good idea. I don`t think it`s --

MADDOW: Are you going to do it if that`s what it comes to?

SANTORUM: Look -- I`m here. I`m going to take every opportunity I

MADDOW: I`ll go anywhere.

SANTORUM: Are you kidding me?

MADDOW: Well, if I`m a stepping stone to the kids table at FOX News

SANTORUM: Congratulations.

MADDOW: If you don`t -- I had an interesting conversation with my
staff the other day. We were talking about -- I was making my case to them
about the fact that I think you are a good communicator. I disagree with
you on almost everything.

But I think that you -- I think that a lot of people have worked very
hard on their elocution in this round. People are trying to set themselves
apart, a lot of people look like high school debate losing team captains
right now and you`re very effective communicator. That`s why I think it
will hurt you if you don`t get on the debates because I think such an
opportunity cost for you.

If you don`t win, if you don`t end up in the debates, if don`t end up
getting nomination, or nobody picks you as V.P., what else do you want to
do? This is the third time you`ve run for president. Second time you run


MADDOW: Second time to run for president.

You haven`t been in office since --


MADDOW: What else do you want? I mean, do you want to be chairman
of the Republican Party?


MADDOW: Do you want to stay in national politics?

SANTORUM: No. Look, I`ve been pretty clear about this. This is the
last race, initial race I`m having at present. I hope to be running for
re-election in four years. But if that`s not the case, you know, I`ve
given it my shot.

And, you know, I`ve got seven kids and an opportunity to serve this
country in other ways. And I`ll look for that opportunity in the private
sector or, you know, probably in the private sector and do my best as I
can, and try to be a good dad and try to be a good citizen of the country.

MADDOW: I want to give you the best chance you have at making that
debate, because I want you to come up with some -- we`re going to take a
commercial break. I would like for to us come up with a way that you can
start a very telegenic fight with Donald Trump.

So, I think that`s your ticket.

SANTORUM: I think I`ve probably been there. I`m the one candidate
here who`s done everything not to do that. I really -- I saw four years
ago how damaging personal attacks are in a campaign. And I learned a
lesson that I`m not going to take bait. I`m not going to take the bait of
other candidates and I`m not going to take the bait of the media that says
that unless you personally attack someone, you`re not really disagreeing
with them.

MADDOW: Oh, I don`t need a personal attack.

SANTORUM: No, I know. That`s why I`m on your show. I think you
keep to the issues and I respect that.

MADDOW: Senator Rick Santorum, we`ll be right back with you because
I won`t allow to you leave.

We`ll be right back.



SANTORUM: When did it become the law of the land that the Supreme
Court has the final say on anything? They cannot have the final say on


The American people have the final say on anything.


That`s the country I live in. Is that the country you live in?


MADDOW: Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum at the
National Right to Life Convention last month speaking to a very excited,
hyped crowd about the latest Supreme Court rulings on --

SANTORUM: Is that the country you live in? That the American people
have the final say? Of course, it is, right?

MADDOW: Well, the Supreme Court is the supreme -- I mean, it is the
Supreme Court.

SANTORUM: Yes. But it`s not a superior branch of government. I
mean, if the Congress comes back and says, you know, we disagree with you
and were able to pass a law and get it signed by the president and say,
courts, you`re wrong, I mean --

MADDOW: You could not pass a law that could contradict the
constitutional ruling of he Supreme Court.

SANTORUM: Why not? Why?

MADDOW: You can amend the Constitution.


MADDOW: They`re ruling on the constitutionality of that law.

SANTORUM: What if they`re doing it with an -- from an
unconstitutional basis? I mean --

MADDOW: They decide what`s constitutional. That`s how our
government works.

SANTORUM: No, no, that`s not necessarily true. The Congress has the

When I took my oath of office as a United States senator, what did I
say? I would uphold the Constitution.

And my feeling is, and I think it`s clearly from our founding
documents, that the Congress has a right to say what`s constitutional. The
president has a right to say what`s constitutional. And that`s part of the
dynamic called checks and balances.

MADDOW: Yes. But -- I mean, you`re fundamentally wrong on civics,
right? If there is, if there is a question as to the constitutionality of
a law, it gets adjudicated.


MADDOW: And the second syllable of that word means it get decided in
the judiciary, the Supreme Court decides whether or not a law is
constitutional. So, you could not now pass a law --

SANTORUM: But if they have --

MADDOW: -- that said we`re banning same sex marriage.

SANTORUM: I`ll give you an example. The partial birth abortion
statute, which sort of has come to light because of the Planned Parenthood
tape, which they obviously used partial birth abortion to deliver some of
these babies. The Supreme Court said it was un --

MADDOW: The Planned Parenthood stuff is --

SANTORUM: The Supreme Court said it was unconstitutional. What did
as a member of Congress is we passed a law outlawing partial-birth abortion
again, and we said to the Supreme Court, you`re wrong. And we actually
listed the reasons why we thought the court was wrong. We made a minor --
and I mean really minor change in the bill. Senate passed it. President
Bush signed it and -- guess what? The Supreme Court reversed itself.

MADDOW: But you`re not talking about changing the constitutional
basis on which the Supreme Court decides something. The Supreme Court
decides whether or not something is constitutional.

SANTORUM: The Congress could you say we disagree with that.

MADDOW: Yes. And you`ll -- and if you do it in a way that
contradicts the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court wins on the issue of

Let`s get on the issue of Supreme Court -- of same sex marriage,
which is what this was about. Do you believe Congress could just pass a
national ban on same-sex marriage and would it become law?

SANTORUM: Well, of course. The Congress could pass anything it
wants to pass. Just because the Supreme Court said, well, we don`t think
this is right doesn`t limit the Congress` -- doesn`t limit the Congress`
ability to pass any law. The Congresses are right to pass whatever they
want. The Supreme Court can strike it down again.


SANTORUM: But the Congress has a right to pass it and a right to say
to the court, you`re wrong. I mean, when we are --

MADDOW: Would you want them to pass a moot bill that would just --

SANTORUM: It wouldn`t be moot. You never know what the Supreme
Court is going to do. Maybe if you -- maybe between the time, and this is,
I think could be the case here. Maybe between the time they decided that
decision and Congress acted, things could have happened and they could have
misread the tea leaves that are going on in America right now, because I
think what was going on with this court is what Justice Kennedy was saying.
You know, we sort of see this definition of liberty is whatever we want it
to be. And this is sort of where the culture is going right now and so
this is what we`re going to do.

He didn`t tie to it any constitutional basis. There`s no precedent
that set -- that gives him the ability to create this new right in the
Constitution. And so, if it`s created on a whole cloth, it can be re-
created in a different way out of whole cloth. And I think that`s the role
of the Congress is to pressure the court to get it right.

MADDOW: So, do you mean that you would want different justices in
the Supreme Court? You would want this to go back to the same justices and
you think you get a different --

SANTORUM: What I would like to see as president, a whole new group
of justices. If you have a new group of justices, I think you might very
well get a different decision.

MADDOW: Can I ask you if you believe people clues to be gay?

SANTORUM: You know, I`ve never answered that question because I
don`t really know the answer to that question.

But I suspect that there`s all sorts of reasons that people end up
the way they are. And I`ll sort of leave it at that.

MADDOW: But it matters in terms of whether or not -- I mean,
legally, in terms of the types of things that we`re describing here, in
terms of whether or not the Congress should challenge the Supreme Court on
these issues. I mean, if it`s an immutable characteristic.

You don`t know if it`s an immutable?

SANTORUM: I don`t know. If it is, that leads to other situations.
I mean, you know, we have, for example, allowed in the law of the land, we
have sex selection abortion. So, you can determine whether one of your
children is gay, should we pass a law saying you can`t abort a child
because you find out that child is going to be gay? You can`t abort a
child because you found out that child is a woman? I mean, those -- how
would you feel about a law like that?

MADDOW: I mean, whatever is on your slippery slope, you --

SANTORUM: But how would you feel about a law like that? If, in
fact, you could identify a gene that`s, you know, obviously, there`s genes
that make you a male or a female, you could identify a gene that made a gay
or lesbian.

MADDOW: But you`re worrying about the consequences of this without
saying that you know whether or not it`s true.

SANTORUM: Because I don`t.

MADDOW: OK. So, do you think that some people choose to be gay?

SANTORUM: There are people who are alive today who identified
themselves as gay and lesbian and who no longer are. That`s true. I do
know -- I`ve met people in that case.

So, I guess maybe in that case, may be they did.

MADDOW: Do you think people choose to -- people can choose to be
heterosexual? You chose --

SANTORUM: All I`m saying, I do know people who have lived a gay
lifestyle and no longer live it.

MADDOW: Do you believe it can be orchestrated? Like you can make a
person --


SANTORUM: Again, I don`t spend a whole lot of time thinking about
these things to be very honest.

MADDOW: Well, you`re really very interested in gay rights though. I
mean, you talk about -- you talk about gay rights all the time. That`s the
whole reason you`re a nationally famous figure before you ever decided to
run for president.

SANTORUM: No, not necessarily. What I talk about --

MADDOW: The man on dog thing, when you talk about the moral
equivalent of same sex relationships --

SANTORUM: I didn`t do that.

MADDOW: You did.

SANTORUM: Actually, if you read the quote, and I challenge you to do
it. The reporter actually put the word gay in there. I never said that.

What I said is that the United States Supreme Court changes the
standard to consensual sexual activity as the standard of privacy or
protected under the Constitution.

MADDOW: The question you were answering was about whether or not gay
people should not have sex, because you said you don`t have a problem with
homosexuality. You have a problem with homosexual act. That`s what you

SANTORUM: Go back -- go back to what I was discussing, which was the
Lawrence versus Texas decision. This was all based on a discussion of the
Lawrence versus Texas case.

And what I said was, if people have the right to consensual activity,
then they have the right to and I listed all these different things.

By the way, if you look at Justice Scalia`s dissent in Lawrence
versus Texas, and, by the way, you looked at Justice White`s majority
opinion in the Bowers decision in the 1986 case, which was the previous
case on this, it`s almost word for word what I said.

The reporter then took us off in a different direction and I said the
things that I said. But the primary purpose of what I was talking about
was changing the legal standard and that that would create a slippery slope
which I think you`re seeing right now, which is -- you know, there are
cases before the courts right now trying to change marriage to allow plural
marriage. And there will be other things that will come around.

And I`m just saying, that the court opened up a Pandora`s box which
at the time, Lawrence versus Texas, I said, we would have --

MADDOW: You`re thinking bestiality?

SANTORUM: I`m saying is that people will make arguments for
consensual activity. That`s what I said.

MADDOW: Including --

SANTORUM: What I said was --


SANTORUM: I quoted --

MADDOW: Why did you say the word "dog"?

SANTORUM: Because I was quoting -- I was quoting Justice White in
his 1986 decision, and that`s why I was referring to his opinion that that
was the majority opinion at the time. The -- that`s why I discussed it the
way I discussed it.

MADDOW: Do you see how gay people --


SANTORUM: I wish -- trust me, I wish I had never said that.

MADDOW: You wish you never said it?

SANTORUM: Well, it was -- it was a flippant comment made to a
reporter who was -- well, not being particularly professional in my opinion
in the way she was conducting her interview. But that`s not an excuse for
me. I take responsibility for what I said. What I said --

MADDOW: And you regret it?

SANTORUM: Absolutely. It was a flippant comment that should not
have come out of my mouth. But the substance of what I said, which is what
I referred to. I stand by that. I don`t -- I wish I had not said in a
flippant term that I did. And I know people were offended by it and I wish
you hadn`t said it.

MADDOW: Senator Rick Santorum, thank you for being here.

SANTORUM: My pleasure.

MADDOW: I realize being at the U2 concert will be your worth your

SANTORUM: Well, you know, just being with my daughter tonight, when
I don`t get a chance to do. So --

MADDOW: Bring her back.


MADDOW: Nice to have you.

SANTORUM: My pleasure.

MADDOW: Thanks a lot.

SANTORUM: Thank you.

MADDOW: We`ll be right back. Stay with us.


MADDOW: We have a lot more ahead tonight, including some big news
out of the White House, on an issue that could become the next big fight
not only in Congress but also in the presidential race. It`s something
that President Obama promised he would do on day one of his presidency. He
has not yet be able to do it, but he may be about to start.

That`s next. Stay with us.



JON STEWART, THE DAILY SHOW: You don`t have that much time to take
away America`s guns, declare martial law and put hard working Americans in
FEMA camps. If you`re going to do that, you better --


STEWART: You`d better get started.

Are you feeling -- you know, there`s an ebb and flow to every
administration, every president.

OBAMA: Right.

STEWART: It appears that you`re feeling it a little bit now. You`ve
got this deal with Iran worked out. You`ve got your fast track authority.
Are you feeling like seven years in, whatever?

OBAMA: I finally know what I`m doing?

STEWART: I`m figuring this thing out. I`m figuring this out. Is
that how you`re --

OBAMA: I tell you. There`s no doubt that you get better as you go
along. It`s like any other job. And you get more experience. What I do
think has happened is that a lot of the work we did early starts bearing
fruit later.

And it just so happened over the last couple of months that people
are seeing some of the work that we started way back when I first came in.


MADDOW: President Obama last night on "The Daily Show", looking back
to the beginning of his time in office, saying that some of that early work
has begun to bear fruit now at the very end of his presidency.

But not all of it, of course. Two days after his inauguration,
President Obama signed an executive order to close the prison at Guantanamo
Bay. Within one year, President Obama wanted it closed by 2010 he planned
to have it closed by 2010. He ordered the attorney general and the defense
secretary to get ready to prepare for moving prisoners out of Guantanamo
into prison cells in the United States instead. He even found a maximum
security prison for them in his home state of Illinois. But he could not
get Congress to go along.

And so, that initial plan was put on ice. And then the whole idea
faded in to the background and stayed there for years.

But then something started to happen a few months ago. Last October,
right before the congressional elections, we started to get reports that
the Obama White House would try to close Guantanamo without help from
Congress. Then, this spring, the White House confirmed it. Josh Earnest
said the president, quote, "has indicated a willingness to use as executive
authority as he can to try to close the prison at Guantanamo." That was in
May, just a couple of months ago.

The big question since then has been, how would that happen? How
would the president try to empty Guantanamo and close its doors if Congress
wouldn`t go along. When would the president be ready to try it on his own,
if that is how he would have to do it?

I mean, that`s been the operating assumption, that if Guantanamo was
ever going to close, it would have to happen without this Congress.

Well, last night, "The New York Times" reported that the president
may first try to work with Congress on this one more time. "The New York
Times" says Defense Secretary Ash Carter and the president`s top
counterterrorism advisor Lisa Monaco will deliver a plan for closing
Guantanamo to Senator John McCain as early as next week. Senator McCain
chairs the Armed Services Committee. He`s been a strong proponent of
shutting down Guantanamo for years now, at least he was a proponent of it
when he ran for president himself.

The core of the plan is apparently an end to the ban on bringing the
remaining 116 prisoners at Guantanamo to the United States. That`s been
the main barrier to closing the prison because what do you do with the
prisoners once the prison is gone?

If that ban is lifted, the plan would transfer lower level detainees
to the U.S. It would bring higher level detainees, deemed too dangerous
for release to a break basically, to a military prison on U.S. soil.

"The New York Times" reported that yesterday. Today, the White House
confirms the administration is in the final stages of drafting a plan to
close Guantanamo. And then they will apparently present that plan to
Congress. They are not going about it on their own, at least not on the
first try. What does this mean in terms of the likelihood of this actually
getting done? And if it does get done, how will it get done?

Joining us now is Neal Katyal. He`s a Georgetown University law
professor. He`s a former acting solicitor general of the United States.
He has argued 24 Supreme Court cases, including Hamdan versus Rumsfeld,
which shut down President Bush`s military tribunals at Guantanamo because
they were unconstitutional.

Neal Katyal, thanks very much for joining us tonight. Nice to see

NEAL KATYAL, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Thank you. It`s nice to see you

MADDOW: We have this news today that President Obama is finalizing
plans to close the prison at Guantanamo. It will be a plan that he
presents to Congress as soon as next week. My sense is that Congress will
never act to do that. But this must be the first step in a larger plan.

KATYAL: Yes, Rachel. I mean, I guess I will try to be more linear
than your last guest, which won`t be that hard.

So, you know, look, he`s got to work with Congress at the first
instance absolutely and talk to them. And it is important to point out
that a lot of people across the aisle have said for years Guantanamo should
be closed. I mean, Colin Powell said, if it were up to me, quote, "I would
close Gitmo not tomorrow but this afternoon." John McCain said similar
things. Even George W. Bush said Guantanamo is a terrorist recruiting tool
around the world and a propaganda machine.

So, you know, Gitmo has been a policy failure and expensive one at
that. So, I think the president is doing the right thing right now.

MADDOW: Putting it to Congress when you know that Congress -- I
mean, you don`t know that Congress will do anything. We can guess that
Congress will say no to this. Is that sort of a prerequisite toward the
president taking some sort of executive action to do it on his own? I`m
thinking of the precedent of immigration reform where the president tried
to work it through Congress, tried to bring people together in Congress,
both sides of the aisles, to work on comprehensive immigration reform.
They decided not to do it and then he acted alone to the extent he could.

Is that possibly the template here?

KATYAL: Well, it could be. But I guess I`d say I think it`s
important to approach this the way the president has, which is an
optimistic spirit what about Congress might do here, because after all,
Gitmo has been a total disaster and a failure. You know, there have been
only eight trials at Guantanamo, seven of those convictions have been
reversed already or about to be reversed. It`s not working.

And so, yes, I think he`s got to work with Congress first. At the
end of the day, I suspect he has some unilateral tools available to him to
possibly close Guantanamo, but I`m sure that he would only use that in the
last instance, and he`s doing the right thing by trying to work with
Congress first.

MADDOW: Neal Katyal, former acting solicitor general of the United
States, thanks for your time tonight. It`s good to see you. Thank you.

KATYAL: Thank you.

MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Programming note: Later this evening if you tune in to "Late
Night with Seth Meyers" on NBC you will see the always funny Seth Meyers
and somebody considerably less funny but who likes talk about politics with
him when she is not hosting her m MSNBC show.

Here`s a sneak preview in which there is a discussion between me and
Seth Meyers about a man named Donald Trump.


MADDOW: The one nice thing about it -- I mean, it`s astonishing.
But the one nice thing is that when you cover big-time national politics,
there`s almost never something totally unpredictable, you know? In this
case, like that debate is going to happen. It`s like is he going to pull
his pants down?


MADDOW: Is he going to pull somebody else`s -- is he going to bite
the head off of a bat?


MADDOW: You know, like, hat else can happen?

MEYERS: My prediction is he brings out a nicer, bigger podium.


MEYERS: Like little taller.


MADDOW: "Late Night with Seth Meyers" tonight on NBC, I will be
wearing this jacket but a different shirt. I will also be debuting some
terrible new high-top sneakers that don`t go with the pants at all.

That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.


Good evening, Lawrence.


<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2015 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>

Rachel Maddow Show Section Front
Add Rachel Maddow Show headlines to your news reader:

Sponsored links

Resource guide